Virtue Now Permits Sin Later, Says Your Brain
When people recall how virtuously they have acted in the past, they are more likely to permit themselves self-destructive or anti-social behavior, says new research on the dark side of goodness.
What's the Latest Development?
The more virtuous we act now, the more likely we are to engage in self-destructive or anti-social behavior later, says new research into the darker side of goodness. In a study completed in Taiwan, doctors gave sugar pills to 74 smokers, telling half the group they were taking vitamin D. After completing an unrelated survey, the smokers were told they could smoke if they desired. Individuals who believed they had taken a healthy dose of vitamin D smoked twice as many cigarettes as those who knew they had taken a placebo.
What's the Big Idea?
According the study's authors, the smokers were exhibiting a concept known as the licencing effect, meaning they consciously or subconsciously thought their previously good behavior justified less than exemplary behavior later on. Previous studies have established that the licencing effect works on our moral sense, too. Individuals who were reminded of their past humanitarian donations, for example, reduced their charitable offering. And people who bought eco-friendly products allowed themselves to cheat and steal in subsequent situations.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.
- Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
- What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
- Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
A guide to making difficult conversations possible—and peaceful—in an increasingly polarized nation.
- How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
- To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.
- The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.